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Academic Research

BPS Employee Research Requests and Authorization

As a learning organization, Bismarck Public Schools encourages continued education and academic research. Many requests are received asking permission to conduct surveys or asking for data samples that can be used to investigate and evaluate programs and processes. The following information pertains to all graduate-level research that is part of a degreed/accredited program.

Research regarding our BPS educational practices and the effect of those practices on student achievement is only a win/win if we are clear about the research questions. It is also important for the researcher to report back on the results and recommendations. Gathering and arranging data can be one of the most time consuming parts of research and this typically falls on our limited assessment and evaluation staff. In an effort to streamline these requests the process for gaining approval is as follows:

(1) Complete the following survey form outlining your study.
(2) Your study will be reviewed by the Executive Team, typically within two weeks.
(3) If your study is authorized you will receive information regarding a contact for data or next steps.
(4) You will be required to submit an executive summary of your results that can be posted to this website area so we can all learn from your work.

Note: BPS does not provide student data that would include individually identifying information (e.g. student numbers).

BPS Employee Research Approval Form
All research involving BPS staff or students must be approved. Please complete the following questions.

Current Academic Research
Author Research Description Hypothesis/Question(s) Audience/Methods Estimated Completion/Results
Chad Even To determine the effectiveness of the Activboard in the regular education classroom.
1. Does the Activboard increase student engagement during a lesson? 2. Does the Activboard engage various learning styles and provide differentiated instruction to meet the various students' needs? 3. Are Activboards more beneficial than standard whiteboards ?
BPS Teachers with ActivBoards. Survey of teacher perceptions regarding instructional practices since receiving an ActivBoard. Executive Summary
Eliza Brown To determine the extent to which online multiplication simulations enhance student fluency of basic multiplication facts. 1.To what extent does online fact practice contribute to student growth?
2.How do online multiplication simulations play a part in the transfer of facts to various math skills?
3.To what extent does the gaming atmosphere of online websites contribute to student fact fluency?
[Note: My study is primarily focusing on multiplication fact fluency. However, my hypothesis is that by strenghtening my students fact fluency, other mathematical concepts will be strengthened as students carry over fact knowledge into other various areas of math.]
Students in author's classroom. Pre/post student perception surveys, observation, analysis of classroom math scores. Executive Summary
Tom Eberle The purpose of this study is to determine whether the Northwest Evaluation Association Measure of Academic Progress (NWEA MAP) assessment is an appropriate measure to use as a precursor to the North Dakota State Assessment (NDSA) to help ensure secondary schools meet Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP). 1.What are the advantages and disadvantages of using the Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress as part of the North Dakota secondary schools assessment strategies?
2.To what extent do North Dakota secondary school districts use the Northwest Evaluation Association Measures of Academic Progress (NWEA-MAP) assessment?
3.To what extent can performance on the North Dakota math and reading assessment for high school students be predicted from Rasch Unit (RIT) scores?

Administrators Executive Summary
Gina Phillips Bismarck High School has been awarded a grant for 5 Kindle eBook readers for circulation in the library. The BHS Library is one of the first schools in the state to circulate eBook readers and we feel this is a great benefit to the students of BHS. Through the use of anonymous surveys, confidential interviews, and circulation statistics we will look at how this form of technology affects student reading enjoyment and interest. (1) To what extent does an eBook reader affect student reading interest? (2) Are reluctant students more likely to read on an eBook reader device? (3) Can eBook readers help increase engagement in reading? (4) Are eBook readers an effective way to motivate teenagers to read more? (5) Do students use the built in technology features such as note taking and the dictionary to increase their comprehension?
Bismarck High School Students Executive Summary
Greta Delparte I want to research student's improvement levels with timed tests in comparison to using the math program Fastt Math. Currently this program is used in the fourth grade and I would like to see if teachers would find more benefit from starting in a younger grade. I plan on using Fast Math with my classroom at least 4 days per school week as compared to another 2nd grade classroom that is using the regular teaching and timed tests to teach students. At the end of this action research project I will be using the data to write a report that I will submit to VCSU as a part of my graduate program. I hypothesize that my students who are using Fast Math will see more growth with quicker reaction times to math facts than the students who are using the timed tests. Teachers & VCSU Staff Executive Summary
Mary McHugh The purpose of this study is to examine the relationship between instructional coaches and classroom teachers in order to better understand how effective coaching relationships are formed. This study will examine the relationship between coaches and the teachers they coach in order to gain information about the following questions:

1. What are the characteristics of the relationships between the coach and the teachers they coach?
2. What factors contribute to effective coaching relationships?
3. What challenges do coaches face in their attempts to build effective coaching relationships?
4. How do coaches and teachers build an effective coaching relationships?
Coaches, Teachers & Administrators Executive Summary
Whitney Spah This study explores the relationship of physical fitness and academic achievement. Student academic achievement will be measured by GPA and the PLAN test, this test serves as a predictor for American College Testing (ACT) test or planning for postsecondary education. Student physical fitness will be measured using the FitStats program, a compilation of physical fitness tests from Cooper Fitnessgram and Presidential Fitness.

It will be hypothesized that tenth grade students will show a positive association between physical fitness tests and academic achievement, as measured by GPA and PLAN test scores.

Administrators and Physical educators as well as students.

Executive Summary
Dominique Bondley
Differentiated instruction encourages changing the dynamics of the classroom to meet the individual needs of students. While changing the mathematical content, delivery process, and student products, I will be intensifying the learning process for all students. I will investigate how the change in teaching practices affects my instruction and student content knowledge acquisition.

Main: How will differentiated instruction affect student learning?

Sub: How does in-class ability grouping affect student learning? How do student interest projects affect student learning? How does differentiated instruction affect teacher instruction?

Students Executive Summary

Wendy Sanderson To study the parent involvement practices of parents/guardians of American Indian middle school students, determine family educational factors that might affect such involvement, and compare parent practices with teacher perceptions on what types of parent involvement are most likely to lead to student academic learning. 1. In what specific parent involvement activities do parents and guardians of American Indian middle school children at this site choose to participate?
a. Is educational attainment level of
American Indian parents a factor in
their choice of parent involvement
b. Is an American Indian boarding school
experience in their family history a
factor in their choice of parent
involvement activities?

2. To what degree do middle school educators
perceive that specific types of parent
involvement activities enhance student
academic learning?

3. Are the specific involvement practices of the parents of
American Indian students in this survey perceived by
educators as a valuable tool for enhancing middle school
students'''' academic learning?
Teachers Executive Summary
Marcia Wilkens The purpose of this thesis is to track and observe common reading characteristics for struggling readers. I am studying 24 characteristics to see if there is a pattern with struggling readers and which patterns may or may not be similiar. What areas are the students struggling the most with reading?

Why can students decode words in isolation, but cannot decode the same words in a sentence or a reading passage?

Where is the biggest problem area with our struggling readers and is and what are the best methods to address the failing readers?
Reading Teachers Executive Summary
Summer Hoverson (Wing) The problem principal's are facing today is they are caught between managerial and operational tasks of the school and instructional leadership. The purpose of this study is to determine if a school's demographic size is a factor in the principal's involvement with curricular activities affects student achievement as measured by Adequate Yearly Progress. This study will also determine if the position of the administrator, either principal or associate principal/assistant principal, is a factor regarding the amount of time the principal is involved with curricular activities affects student achievement as measured by Adequate Yearly Progress. The data will also be analyzed to see if a pattern exists between each individual schools Adequate Yearly Progress scores and principal involvement with curricular activities.

1. Does the Average Daily Membership (ADM) of each participating school affect the amount of time principals spend on curricular activities?

2. Does a principal's position affect the amount of time spent on curricular activities?

3. Does principal involvement with curricular activities result in higher Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) scores?
Administrators Executive Summary
Patty Kuntz The purpose of this study is to explore the attitudes and motivation of students, teachers, and parents regarding reading for pleasure. The study will also reveal whether choosing reading as a leisure activity is important, and if there is merit to having teachers and parents as reading models when trying to raise readers. Through this research I hope to uncover factors related to reading for pleasure. Do we, as educators, allow enough choice when asking students to select books? Is the area of children's literature being given enough focus to allow pre-service teachers the expertise they need to expose students to great literature? Are we providing enough in school class time for independent reading, and are we as educators underscoring its importance? What are the benefits of sustained silent reading (SSR) programs whose primary focus should be based on building independent readers, and are they effective? Where will our future be as a nation if our students are not avid readers? Does it matter if teachers and future educators are not avid readers, and should we be concerned? Students/colleagues/parents/MSU preservice teachers Executive Summary
Jody Netzer The purpose of this study is to look at the relationship between reading comprehension and humorous literature. Do children comprehend stories that contain humor better than stories that are non-humorous? Teachers Executive Summary
Shereen Schwagler The focus of this study is on exploring the relationships between the RTI process and reading improvement in students' identified as needing additional support in the area of reading. Is there a significant difference between Title I students (2007-2008 and 2010-2011). Growth scores from fall to spring on MAP will be compared for Title I students in 2007-2008 to Title I students in 2010-2011 using a t-test for independent means.

Does increased time (intervention) correlate to increased reading growth. The total number of minutes for each student receiving intervention services in 2007-2008 and in 2010-2011 will be calculated and a Pearson Correlation will be used to determine if there is a relationship between intervention time spent and fall to spring growth on MAP.
Reading Teachers, RTI Coaches, Reaching Coaches, Teachers Executive Summary
Ryan Harty This research will focus on the benefits sports offer for students who participate in them regarding their overall education. 50 current 11th grade high school athletes test scores and GPA will be compared to 50 current 11th grade high school non-student athletes test scores and GPA. The test scores I will use for this study are the reading and math scores of the North Dakota State Assessment and MAP tests. Do students who participate in athletics perform better academically than students who do not participate in athletics? Coaches, Teachers, Administrators, UND Staff Executive Summary
Tami Doppler The purpose of the study is to determine if students with Physical Education class immediately prior to MAP Reading/ Math tests score higher on the MAP Reading/Math tests. 1) Does the time in which students receive Physical Education class in correlation to their MAP tests affect the students academically on their Reading or Math scores?

2) Is there a relationship between physical activity and academic achievement?
Students, Teachers, Administrators August 2013
Andrew Jordan The purpose of this study is to measure the Missouri River Educational Cooperative/Extended School Program (21st Century Community Learning Center Program) to analyze the impact the program has on student academic achievement. What is the impact that the 21st Century Community Learning Centers have on Academic Achievement? Administrators September 2013
Reagan Urbanec The purpose of the study is to find a correlation between a social media presence and improved student perception of the library. Prior to starting, students will be interviewed and surveyed to gather constant data on how students currently perceive the library. With regular social media posts via a Facebook page and Twitter account, data will be collected charting the amount of fictional books being checked out on a weekly basis. At the end of the year, students will be interviewed and surveyed to measure a difference in perception of the library. Can a social media presence influence the amount of fictional books being checked out by students and improve the student perception of the library? Teachers Executive Summary
Kelsi Hach The purpose of this project is to use data from the 2011 art perception survey and new data from an upcoming surveys to find out if an art integrated curriculum will strengthen the visual arts and what can be done to improve the art integrated lessons for teachers and student engagement. 1. What can we do to improve visual arts in our schools? 2. How can we provide support to integrate art into other subject areas? Teachers Executive Summary
Lesley Gunderson The adoption of the Common Core State Standards are bringing changes to curriculum across the country-but not just in the classroom. CCSS curriculum requires students to access all types of text, therefore modern library collections may need to change too. School librarians need to be ready for the shift and its new emphasis on 21st-century skills including information literacy, primary resources, independent thinking and complex texts. This study is being done to determine in what way can the library collection change to become involved in Common Core State Standard teaching and learning? 1. How can the library collection change to allow students and teachers better access to texts both physical and digital?

2. What, if any, materials are needed to fill gaps in the library collection pertaining to the Common Core State Standards and the new (2012) ND Library standards?

3. What areas of the library collection will be in demand as Common Core standards continue to be implemented?
Library Media Specialists October 2013
Julie Frank This is an action research study to be completed for masters program. It will focus on improving math instruction through the implementation of math talk as described in the resource Classroom Discussions: Using math talk to help students learn. I will be gathering input and observations from kindergarten teachers who took the Math Talk classes with Laura Mastel. Math talk involves five teaching practices for improving the quality of discourse in mathematics. The makes it clear that conceptual understanding be connected to procedures; one way to deepen conceptual understanding is through communication that students have around math concepts, strategies, and representations. The question to be examined is: To what effect will the implementation of Math Talk improve math instruction in a kindergarten classroom? 6 Kindergarten Teachers and Classrooms December of 2013
Brittni Bruenjes The Common Core Standards require increased rigor in the writing curriculum. This action research project examines the effects Google Apps and collaborative research have on student writing in a third grade classroom. Previous research indicates that student engagement increases with addition of technology. This study utilizes a pre-test and post-test design and a student intake survey. The research will also assess student attitudes throughout the course of the project. The researcher plans to use the findings to guide instruction and determine what new technology could be purchased for the district. RQ 1: In what ways could Google Apps influence student-writing achievement?

RQ 2: What effect will collaborative research have on student attitudes during the research process?
Teachers May 2014
Lacey Pfleger The purpose of this study is to describe the effects Math Daily 5 has on students'''' mathematical knowledge skills and fact fluency. 1. How can I use the Daily 5 Math approach in my classroom to help students develop math knowledge, skills, and increase fact fluency?

2. When using Daily Math, what math outcomes develop?
Teachers Executive Summary
Deanna Krueger To determine whether using leveled book room resources affect the acquisition of reading standards mastery in second grade students. Will using leveled book room resources affect the acquisition of reading standards mastery in second grade students? Teachers December 2013
Brandy Geloff In order to more effectively meet the common core state standards, I will integrate the management system of Daily 5 Math into my core instruction as a way to teach to all levels. I expect that this will increase student learning in order to meet proficiency on the standards based assessments. This will also help to create specific centers that target the common core standards for students to practice effectively when they are not with me in a small group. To what effect will the integration of Daily 5 Math into the core curriculum improve standards based assessments in 1st grade? Teachers December 2013
Amy Hanzal The goal is to increase reading fluency and to provide classroom teachers an effective intervention to do so. Gather data on students receiving the Six Minute Solution in small group setting as well as gather data on a classroom that is participating in whole group with The Six Minute Solution.
What are the effects of the implementation of the Six-Minute Solution on student oral reading fluency scores? Teachers
December 2013
Allison Wendel The purpose of this study is to see how student engagement with lesson content improves the transfer of knowledge across genres of study in English Language Arts. In particular, the research will focus on the use of popular culture and one-to-one technology to enhance student engagement with lesson content. Based on previous research, the implementation of popular culture during the instruction of lesson content boosts student engagement which will subsequently increases students' transfer of knowledge. RQ 1: What effect does student engagement have in the transfer of knowledge of common literary terms across genres?

RQ 2: In what ways does the implementation of popular culture in lesson content improve students' engagement with lesson content and subsequent transfer of knowledge?

RQ 3: To what extent does the use of one-to-one technology support the use of pop culture to engage students with lesson content?
Teachers December 2014
Heather Harper I will be doing a research project investigating the effects that netbook computers have on student engagement and learning. My class will be using netbook computers for some of their daily work and projects throughout the year. My goal is to evaluate how these computers with online programs impact student learning and the level of engagement the students experience during the assignments or projects. What effect do netbook computers have on student engagement?" and "What effect do netbook computers have on student learning?" Students Executive Summary
Erin Jacobson As an instructional coach I have informally witnessed an increase in writing skills in classrooms where student talk is promoted and taught. I am interested in how the use of talk-partners can impact the learning of students during writer's workshop. How are the partnerships taught to talk to one another? How often are the students allowed to talk? At what points during the workshop are students allowed to talk? The correlation between reading, writing and talking is one that I am excited to dig deeper into. How can explicitly modeled talk-partners increase primary students' ability to write more proficiently when used with the writer's workshop model as demonstrated by standards-based writing rubric given pre and post assessments? University Faculty April 2014
Amy McCarthy
The purpose of this study is for third grade students to complete various word sorts and other spelling activities in word study rotations. I hope to see students'''' spelling skills increase and carryover into daily writing. Do students become better spellers by engaging in their own learning of spelling words with word sorts in place of a traditional spelling approach of memorizing a list of words? TO what extent will having third grade students participate in daily word study rotations show improvement in their weekly spelling tests as well as improve their spelling in daily writing? Teachers Executive Summary
Amy Ersland I am a second grade teacher with two eight year old boys in my class, who began the year with knowledge of less than five sight words and were reading at zero words per minute according to a September AIMS Web test of reading fluency for second grade. These students are more than one grade level behind the class. Typical second graders can read about 50 words per minute and usually have memorized about 200 sight words or more when school begins in the fall. Both are on IEPs (Individual Education Plans) for learning disabilities, diagnosed ADHD and taking medication, with low memory processing and cognitive skills.
The importance of this research study is to find and implement effective sight word strategies and techniques in search of ways to make positive gains in their learning; taking into account many researched strategies that work best with learning disabled children with limited attention spans.
How will second graders who struggle with acquisition of sight words respond to a differentiated and multisensory approach to learning new words?

When the number of sight words memorized weekly is limited to 4-5 words, along with constant review of past words, will the retention of words improve with these children?

With the knowledge that both boys have attention problems, as well as exhibit low memory skills, what other issues could be hindering their success in learning new words?
Teachers Executive Summary
Alissa Bland-Metzler The study will be a mixed methods case study (dissertation for PhD) examining the process by which BPS evaluated and reviewed their current ELL program in response DPI ELL program monitoring in fall 2012. Then using the data (both qualitative and quantitative) to inform a program restructuring proposal for possible future implementation. What components of the current ELL program are effective and ineffective to various stakeholders?
What are the wants, needs, and perceptions of ELL program restructuring of various stakeholders?
What ELL program models will effectively address the wants of stakeholders while also positively affecting ELL students'''' language development and academic achievement?
Teachers, parents, and administrators May of 2015
Brooke Meissel and Kelly Jean Hanlon Kindergartners and 1st graders have difficulty reaching proficiency in subtraction fact automaticity (fluency). Our goal of our 6 week intervention is to increase the number of students who are proficient in subtraction automaticity at the end of the school year. This will better prepare them for upcoming grade levels. What effect will the combination of "Think Addition" and "Taped Problems" have on increasing subtraction fact automaticity in a Kindergarten and 1st grade classroom? Teachers Executive Summary
Michael Bichler In my final project I need to research an area with in our educational system to focus. I have chosen to focus on ACT scores and creating a plan to increase scores. How can our educational system increase ACT scores? Faculty August 2014

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